Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel went to school in Gainford, that’s more than enough of a reason to have a wander around.

Stan

Lovely Medieval cross slabs line the church porch walls

Inside the church, a pair of carved stones

AD stones

AD stone

There is a dragon carving on the opposite face of the second stone, it is almost impossible to see the carving as the stone is close to the wall and fixed into the floor. A photograph of it can be seen here

Pillar

The house next to the church has an impressive piece of garden architecture.

A path from the churchyard leads down to the Tees, its waters stained with Pennine peatShap Granite

 A boulder, transported from the Shap Fells.

Peg Powler

Peg Powler patrols the banks

A wall blocks access to a broken Bailey Bridge, many of its boards are missing, one of the supporting columns has been washed away.

Dovecote

With no convenient river crossing, the distant dovecote will have to wait

Returning to the village, I stop to admire this lovely Festival of Britain bench.

Illustration of Gainford Carved Stones from The Antiquities of Gainford. J.R Walbran 1846

The Gainford Stone

The Barforth Bailey Bridge 

To Warn The Water

Dock Road

This peculiarly local expression is only heard in the lower or eastern vales of the river Tees, a stream which, from the rapidity of its upper course, and from the numerous tributary rivers and smaller streams it receives in its passage down to the village of Croft, often rises very suddenly, and occasionally to the depth of nine, and even more, extra feet of water. The consequence was that, at a not very distant period, an inhabitant of Hurworth, who we may term the Warner of the Water, was usually despatched to Yarm, to give the inhabitants of that place notice of its approach.

On the morning of Sunday, the 17th November, 1771, the whole town of Yarm  (not so much as a single house excepted) was laid under water. Six dwelling-houses were totally demolished and seven persons drowned.

The Denham Tracts. Vol.1 The Folklore Society 1892

Preston upon Tees

A suicidal mallard left me stranded and wandering for half a day around Preston upon Tees.

A dead-end lane runs from the main road across farm land on the outskirts of Preston. At the end of the lane is a double row of houses called The Moorhouse Estate.The estate was built in 1936 as part of the Land Settlement Act, which redeployed men from industry on to the land to work in small holdings.

A bridge carries the railway line over Moorhouse Estate lane. The original Stockton to Darlington railway ran on the other side of the main road through what is now Preston Park. The route of the line can be still seen as a low embankment in the woods running parallel to the main road. The line was moved to its present position in 1852.

Not knowing the area I follow the network of footpaths from the main road towards the river.

The Preston Pipe Bridge built in 1959  by Dow-Mac Engineering Construction Ltd at a cost of £42,000

The Jubilee Bridge, opened in 2002 links Stockton with Ingleby Barwick. During the 1990’s Ingleby Barwick was reputed to be the largest private housing estate in Europe.

Middlehaven

St Hilda’s is the oldest part of Middlesbrough, for most of the life of modern Middlesbrough the area has been known as The Border or Over the Border. The border being the railway track that separates the area from the rest of the town.

The border always had a reputation for being a tough, close-knit  community. A few years ago Middlesbrough council  launched a redevelopment plan for the area which they renamed Middlehaven. Unfortunately the redevelopment involved the demolition of the existing housing estate and the removal of the small community that lived there.

Some new housing has been built in the area, the development has been labelled ‘The Urban Pioneer Site’. Urban pioneers and ‘Boho Zones’ on a site that has seen continuous habitation for over a thousand years. I wonder if any of the original border families will be given the opportunity to live in these houses, I wonder if they would want to.

The people of Middlesbrough speak with a deep pride and affection for their river but have very little access to it. Walking from the town centre it struck me that the town and its river are detached, other than the lifeless old dock, there is very little accessible river frontage within strolling distance of the town centre. There are two parks that look out over the river but both are hidden away in industrial zones.

The redevelopment of the land around the Middlesbrough Dock continues but the large derelict former industrial site that sits between the dock and the river does not seem to feature in any of the proposed plans for the area.

imagetwoA new road is currently being built to improve access to the site and there is a plan to build more houses and a snow centre where perhaps former steel workers can start new careers as ski instructors.

Runner